After evaluating over 100 submissions from applicants over 30 countries, the five winners of the inaugural Open Innovation Challenge have been announced by GE and Statoil’s Sustainability Collaboration. The challenge was focused on addressing the use of sand in unconventional operations, with the Collaboration seeking a lighter or more compact replacement for currently used proppants, including sand.
Cash prize for the winners
The winners will each receive an initial cash prize of US$25 000. Furthermore, they will be eligible to receive additional funding from an available discretionary prize pool of US$375 000 for potential development upon meeting certain additional conditions.
Reducing the number of truck trips through the use of sand
Well stimulation requires hundreds of trips to transport materials, thereby increasing road wear, traffic, dust and noise emissions.
By concentrating on sand, the crowdsourcing Challenge looked for solutions that have the potential to reduce the environmental impacts on local communities, lessen emissions and make energy production more efficient.
Sand plays a critical role in shale development and the hydraulic fracturing process. It is mixed with water and injected into a formation to stimulate the tiny fractures, thereby enabling oil and natural gas to flow freely.
Seeking a lighter or more compact replacement
“Proppant and water are the most trucked materials in hydraulic fracturing,” said Lars Høier, Senior Vice President, Research, Development and Innovation, Statoil ASA. “Therefore the overarching objective of the Sand Challenge was to reduce truck trips by addressing the use and composition of proppants. We were seeking both a lighter or more compact replacement for currently used proppants and/or new types of fluid or fluid additives that better suspend the proppant and are more efficient.”
Eric Gebhardt, Chief Technology Officer, GE Oil and Gas, commented: “The positive response and excellence of the winning submissions underscore the value of open innovation and the significance of industry collaboration to bring great ideas not only to the table, but to reality. We are eager to explore these collaborative solutions more as we move toward future testing, development and potential commercialisation.”
Adapted from press release by David Bizley